Of all the tools in job-search toolbox, your resume will see the most frequent use. Your resume is very often the first thing human resources representatives see; it'll be the first representation of you to come before a hiring manager's eyes; and overall, it needs to be a near-complete representation of your skills and employment history.
So with that, we offer five of our best tips for creating a resume that'll have employers (and employment agencies) hiring you without a second thought. Plus one extra.
Open with an objective. By supplying an objective, you're letting the HR professional who receives your resume know where to send it, and which job you're interested in getting. You're also giving a clue as to how to read your resume. Without letting anyone know what kind of job you want, you risk having your resume tossed into the round file.
Use White Space. If your employment history is extensive, it's going to be hard to keep your resume to one page -- but having a single-page resume is of paramount importance. Don't let your desire to cram your entire life onto one page create a jam-packed resume. Consider yourself a designer as you write your resume -- and white space is one of the most important tools a designer has. White space gives your readers' eyes a break, and helps you draw them to what's most important.
Use a professional title if you've got one. Even if that title came from your last job, it's a good way to convey an appearance of professionalism. Something like "Joe Smith, IT Specialist" or "Jane McPhee, Commercial Driver" will give your resume the spark it needs -- and it'll do so in a place that catches the eye.
Sell yourself quickly. Early on in your resume -- perhaps right after the career objective -- give a quick list of your qualifications. HR professionals usually have huge stacks of resumes to read through, and anything you can do (within reason, of course) to call attention to your relevant skills and training will help you stand out.
Account for gaps. Even the best of us have gaps in our employment history. Employers and employment agencies hiring new workers tend not to like gaps, so be sure to include explanations -- you might be surprised at what looks good on a resume. If you spent a year backpacking through Europe, or living off savings and doing volunteer work, say so. Time spent unemployed isn't necessarily time wasted.
Oh, and here's that Extra Tip Just For The Heck Of It:
Say "P.U." to P.O. boxes. For one reason or another, you may use a P.O. box for professional mail, particularly if you're in the middle of an extensive job search. When you list your address on your resume, make sure it's your home address. Agencies hiring new employees like stability -- it helps assure recruiters that you're not going to drop off the face of the earth. And a P.O. box looks considerably less stable than a home address. If you're worried about a deluge of letters, consider making two resumes -- one with each address. Then you can reserve the resume bearing your home address for those jobs you really want.